Three Men on Their Bikes – Richard Mapes
Three Men on Their Bikes follows a very well-trodden path, telling the story where close friends from younger days suddenly recognise they are drifting apart and decide to take a road-trip or vacation to rekindle old friendships. My initial difficulty with a story of this nature is that I don’t buy into either the problem or the solution, but you expect humour along the way, so I tell myself, don’t be so pernickety and enjoy the ride (no pun intended – well ok there was).
Ian, Harry and George have been mates since University days and over the years they have started to drift apart. Ian is the narrator of the story and he’s saving for his wedding, so most of his time and money has been spent with his fiancé, leaving little time or money for outings with Harry and George. Harry is an obsessively competitive person whether it’s sports, work or just downing a pint. Work has been getting difficult as he’s moved from sales to management. His highly competitive nature causes problems with his team. On one hand, he can’t stand people that can’t keep up, on the other hand, the capable ones he sees as threats. George is single and seems to have remained the person he always was. He suggests on numerous occasions that he’s still here, it’s the other two that have drifted away.
George not only encourages spending more time together but books a 3-day coast to coast cycling holiday from Morecambe to Bridlington, through the Yorkshire Dales. They have 3 months to prepare and before you know it they’re off and running (well riding). Three guys with testosterone pumping and a boys-let-loose attitude, I expected a lot of funny and crazy episodes but that didn’t happen. The jokes were there but always with a feeling of restraint. The conversations and dialogue for the first half of the book were generally dull and uneventful. George cycles in tweed, long sock and cycling clips – that’s not funny, that’s stupid.
During the trip, they meet various characters that are all undertaking the same trip, all with more experience than they have. There is a sense of camaraderie, although bear in mind Harry is hyper-competitive. The characters and interactions seemed too convenient and with very little depth. Unfortunately, the story didn’t really captivate or interest me, however, the last third of the book it did pick up a little as they each learn something about themselves. They recognise that life changes, priorities change, and we always need to work hard at relationships with family and friends.
For most of the book I was feeling 3 stars but probably raised to 3.5 stars overall. I would like to thank Thistle Publishing and NetGalley for an ARC version of the book in return for an honest review.